October 22, 2016

On Picnic Point, this afternoon.

So many people were out enjoying the beautiful colors and light:


A view over the water, back at the Capitol:


Trump's Gettysburg Address — did you get the feeling you were listening to his concession speech...

... or does it feel more as though he's trying to seem as though he's a new candidate just starting out? Let me do a poll....

What are you hearing?
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"If [Trump] gets in, good luck to him. That's what the people wanted...."

"He's an entertainer.... I doubt he thought about becoming president a year ago, and it's like a joke that got out of hand.... It's like [a 1980s comedy movie that] would start with two old billionaires going, 'I bet I can choose the worst person and make him president within a year.' And then someone goes, 'You're on!' and that's how the film starts."

Said Ricky Gervais, very aptly.

Yes, this is a democracy, and if Trump becomes President, there's no blaming Trump. It's something the people made happen. The same goes for Hillary and for our awful predicament having Hillary and Trump as the candidates. That's us. It's like America got up one morning, looked in the mirror, saw it was ugly and had to decide what to do about it. America could put on a big hat, pulled down low over the eyes, dark glasses, and a big scarf around the neck and a big heavy coat before going out into the world. Or America could say, I'm going to be out and proud. I'm going to rock the ugly. Those are the options. What are you going to do?

"Bob Dylan's failure to acknowledge his Nobel Prize in literature is 'impolite and arrogant,' according to a member of the body that awards it."

Well, it's impolite and arrogant to say that too, isn't it?
Academy member Per Wastberg told Swedish television: "He is who he is," adding that there was little surprise Dylan had ignored the news. "We were aware that he can be difficult and that he does not like appearances when he stands alone on the stage"...

Mr Wastberg called the snub "unprecedented", but... Jean-Paul Sartre in 1964 [rejected the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1964].
And here's the very cool video of Doris Lessing climbing out of a cab and getting confronted with the news that she just won the Prize:

I especially love the artichokes.

And why did Sartre refuse the Nobel Prize? Here's his explanation, translated and published in The New York Review of Books in 1964:
[M]y refusal is not an impulsive gesture, I have always declined official honors...

This attitude is based on my conception of the writer’s enterprise. A writer who adopts political, social, or literary positions must act only with the means that are his own—that is, the written word. All the honors he may receive expose his readers to a pressure I do not consider desirable. If I sign myself Jean-Paul Sartre it is not the same thing as if I sign myself Jean-Paul Sartre, Nobel Prizewinner....

The writer must therefore refuse to let himself be transformed into an institution....
That is the "personal" reason for refusing. There are also what he calls the "objective" reasons:
The only battle possible today on the cultural front is the battle for the peaceful coexistence of the two cultures, that of the East and that of the West.... I myself am deeply affected by the contradiction between the two cultures: I am made up of such contradictions. My sympathies undeniably go to socialism and to what is called the Eastern bloc, but I was born and brought up in a bourgeois family and a bourgeois culture. This permits me to collaborate with all those who seek to bring the two cultures closer together. I nonetheless hope, of course, that “the best man wins.” That is, socialism.

This is why I cannot accept an honor awarded by cultural authorities, those of the West any more than those of the East, even if I am sympathetic to their existence....
I love the illustration, by the great NYRB caricaturist, David Levine. 

And suddenly, I want to link to this article that I just saw on the front-page of the NYT website: "Campaign Aims to Help Pepe the Frog Shed Its Image as Hate Symbol."

ADDED: Making a Doris Lessing tag and applying it retroactively, I discover that I commented on that Doris Lessing video clip back in 2007 in a post called "Why did Doris Lessing say 'Oh, Christ' on hearing that she won the Nobel Prize?" At the time I said:
I think she was annoyed that this was going to be the video clip that everyone would watch forever. She'll always have her hair like that, her face like that — however she happened to end up after she'd been dragging herself around town all morning. And now she has to say something, and it better be good, because everyone will quote it. Oh, Christ, I have to go through this whole thing right now.

And it worked out for her. Everyone thinks "Oh, Christ" means so much. It's profound. But, really, it's not as if she could have squealed like an actress winning the Oscar. You don't think she was thrilled, inside?

Or maybe she was kind of pissed, and said "Oh, Christ" in the sense of: So, now, finally they get around to me... after all those second-rate hacks who got the prize all those years when I was ready with my hair done and my makeup on and a nice quote ready to go.

Question: Does Cher still go on television and sing "I Got You Babe"?

Answer: Yes.

That's painful. Or so I thought for most of the performance... which has her singing with the Late Late Show's James Corden, who's sort of in the Sonny role, but also looking and acting like Cher. The joke is that the song is modernized to refer to swiping on an iPhone and "Netflix and chill" and sexting and deleting porn history and calling your relationship "offish" (which is better than the word it's treated as rhyming with — "marriage"). I was cringing in the pain but as it went on — with both Cher and Corden totally committed to making a joke out of the song — I stopped feeling bad for Cher and I finally realized that this actually is exactly the kind of comedy Cher did with Sonny on her old TV show. She's a great comedienne and not just a movie actress comedienne, but a TV comedienne, which means selling some half-assed sketches. It's not easy. It takes real skill and nerve.

"Something very positive has come out of Trump's run for the Presidency. Women have come out of the shadows..."

".... refusing to feel shame about some of the terrible things that have happened to them, and they have shared their stories. Shared them [publicly] and in print. Some have spoken about sexual assault and how that has affected them going forward. Some have shared stories about their abortions. There is such power when we come together as a group. The plots of the stories may differ but many of the feelings are the same. What you did for precious Lev is motherhood in its highest form. You protected him. You protected him from trauma, pain and suffering. And then you turned this dreadful experience into something positive. The experience didn't harden you, it softened you. Bless you for openly sharing your story. I know you have touched many people. Thank you."

The top-rated comment on a NYT op-ed titled "Late-Term Abortion Was the Right Choice for Me."

By the way, I need to elaborate on something I was writing about yesterday in the post "Who — Trump or Hillary — was confused or dishonest about abortion at the last debate?" I was looking very closely at a something written by the obstetrician/gynecologist Jen Gunter, who had mostly attacked what Donald Trump said about abortion in the last debate, but who also said that Hillary Clinton was "confused." Gunter wrote:
Talking about abortion from a medical perspective is challenging when you are not a health care provider. Even someone familiar with the laws can get confused. For example, Mrs. Clinton made an error speaking about late-term abortion when she said it was a health of the mother issue. Typically it is not (it’s almost always fetal anomalies).... I don’t know where Mrs. Clinton got this “bad news at the end” of the pregnancy being about maternal health.... [N]o one is performing health of the mother abortions at 38 or 39 weeks we just do deliveries. It’s called obstetrics.
Gunter proceeds to talk about "deliveries" that are designed to kill the unborn — a procedure she speaks of approvingly because "After 24 weeks birth defects that lead to abortion are very severe and typically considered incompatible with life." Now, 24 weeks is generally considered the point of viability, and under the case law, a woman has a right to choose to have an abortion for any reason prior to viability. But after viability, laws may protect the life of the unborn, but the woman has a right to get an abortion to protect her own life or health.

That, I assume, is the reason why Hillary Clinton spoke of late-term abortion as a matter of the woman's health. In other words, it wasn't "an error." The person "with the laws" was not "confused." She was framing her position carefully to fit the law. Gunter is a person familiar with the medical practice. From her point of view, Hillary seemed "confused" because Hillary's position is out of line with the real-life facts as Gunter has experienced them. So it seems that Gunter stumbled into what can be understood as devastating to Hillary Clinton's position. I don't know how many people will notice this, however. I didn't notice it when I wrote the post yesterday.

Here's something else I noticed only after writing the post.

"White privilege and elitism are on the ballot. It's not just about defeating Trump...."

"[W]e need to defeat not just Trump, but whatever it is he springs from; the dying dinosaurs that exist in this country who miss the old way where the white man was going to run the show. Last month, we just got the second year in a row where the majority of kindergarteners in school in this country were not white.  So welcome to the new America.... [Trump is] the natural extension of everything that [Republicans] have believed in for the last 30 years. And it's like the gene pool has got more and more depleted and you end up in a science fiction show like the one we're in with this creature. It's like somebody went to Dr. Frankenstein last year and said, 'I need a candidate who is the embodiment of every awful male trait, every awful white man trait and every awful rich guy trait and roll that all into one candidate.['] In a way, it's a gift. It does become a referendum. He literally is a representative for each of these things that we've been seeing a gradual end to. The times have changed. The days of these dinosaurs are over. It's got to be hard on them. Nobody likes to give up power. We've been in charge for about 10,000 years, so it's a long run. We had a great streak."

Said Michael Moore (talking to Rolling Stone).

"I got blood in my eyes for you...."

That's not an original Bob Dylan song, but something from "World Gone Wrong," a collection of traditional folk songs. Dylan recorded the album solo in his home studio in May 1993. It was the last album made to fulfill a contract he'd signed in 1988. That might sound as though he didn't like contracts, but by the end of 1993, he'd signed another contract, obligating himself to make 10 more albums.

Here are all the lyrics to "Blood in My Eyes," which seems to say something about contracts (and, yes, Donald Trump):
Woke up this morning, feeling blue,
Seen a good-lookin' girl, can I make love with you?...
I went back home, put on my tie,
Gonna get that girl that money that money will buy...
She looked at me, begin to smile,
Said, "Hey, hey, man, can't you wait a little while?"...
No, no, ma'ma, I can't wait,
You got my money, now you're trying to break this date...
I tell you something, tell you the facts,
You don't want me, give my money back.
He only wants damages (restitution?), not specific performance.

October 21, 2016

Who — Trump or Hillary — was confused or dishonest about abortion at the last debate?

I'm reading "Fact-Checking the Debate Fact-Checkers on Abortion" by Ramesh Ponnuru at The National Review.
Many news outlets accused Trump of misrepresenting Clinton’s position by bringing up the possibility of killing “the baby on the ninth month on the final day.” This does not happen, said the fact-checkers. But go back and read the transcript: What Trump said (in two iterations) was that “if you go with what Hillary is saying in the ninth month you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.” That is the logic of her position on late-term abortion, which is that an abortionist should be free to perform an abortion at any stage of pregnancy if there is a health reason for it, including a reason of emotional health. Some journalists were touting this criticism of Trump’s comments and defense of Clinton’s position, which ends up saying that abortions at the very end of pregnancy never happen but should still be legal because of the principle of the thing. Trump grasps that logic and says he objects to it. “Now you can say that that’s okay and Hillary can say that that’s okay, but it’s not okay with me.” You can agree with Trump or you can agree with Clinton, but you can’t truthfully say that there’s no difference between their stated positions.
The link at "this criticism" goes to a blog post by Dr. Jen Gunter, "Donald Trump confuses birth with abortion and no, there are no ninth month abortions." I'm reading that now. She quotes Trump's "I think it’s terrible if you go with what Hillary is saying in the ninth month you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby." Her first objection is is: "we don’t rip anything in OB/GYN." They use sharp instruments and make neat cuts.
Perhaps we can forgive Donald Trump for not knowing this as it is hard to believe that a man who bragged that he doesn’t change diapers and said he wouldn’t have had a baby if his wife had wanted him to actually physically participate in its care would have attended the birth of his own children. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart as there is, after all, lots of blood coming out the “wherever.”
That's amusingly written — if you're in the mood to be amused on this subject — but it's willfully ignoring Trump's motivation to use inflammatory rhetoric. He's not purporting to accurately describe a medical procedure but to dramatize the perspective of the baby who is getting killed. To be fair, it probably feels better to get killed with sharp instruments than to be ripped apart. And yet "partial-birth" abortion is illegal under federal law and the Supreme Court upheld that ban precisely because there is another method of late-term abortion, and that method — if I may believe Justice Kennedy's opinion in Gonzales v. Carhart does involve ripping:
The doctor grips a fetal part with the forceps and pulls it back through the cervix and vagina, continuing to pull even after meeting resistance from the cervix. The friction causes the fetus to tear apart. For example, a leg might be ripped off the fetus as it is pulled through the cervix and out of the woman. The process of evacuating the fetus piece by piece continues until it has been completely removed....
That grabbing and ripping is the the method that remained legal after the "partial-birth" abortion ban. (Gunter eventually describes this procedure: "The fetus is essentially taken apart with a D and E to fit through the dilated cervix." But, she says, this is not "ripping," but "simply surgical technique.")

Gunter says:
Trump’s statement, as incorrect as it may be, supports the fallacy of the due-date abortion. 
Supports the fallacy. In other words, he didn't say doctors were agreeing to perform abortions as late as the due date, but he caused people to picture this nonexistent event. His words, as Ponnuru observes, are about Hillary's philosophical principles: Hillary sees no role for the law to do anything in the hypothetical situation. Hillary, for her part, doesn't defend herself by saying we don't need laws about things that are not happening in the real world. She rests on the belief in the woman's autonomy. (As I would put it: The woman has sovereignty over the interior of her own body and the only legitimate law is her law.)

Back to Dr. Gunter:
Talking about abortion from a medical perspective is challenging when you are not a health care provider. Even someone familiar with the laws can get confused. For example, Mrs. Clinton made an error speaking about late-term abortion when she said it was a health of the mother issue. Typically it is not (it’s almost always fetal anomalies).... I don’t know where Mrs. Clinton got this “bad news at the end” of the pregnancy being about maternal health.... [N]o one is performing health of the mother abortions at 38 or 39 weeks we just do deliveries. It’s called obstetrics.
Was Clinton confused? It might be a political choice not to talk about destroying a defective child.

Gunter proceeds to school us in birth defects, which, she says, are the reason for 80% of abortions that take place after 21 weeks. The defects, she says, "could range from Down syndrome to anomalies incompatible with life." Gunter shifts quickly to abortions that take place after 24 weeks, considered the point of viability, after which the woman no longer has a constitutional right to have an abortion for any reason. She writes:
After 24 weeks birth defects that lead to abortion are very severe and typically considered incompatible with life. 
Typically. What's hidden behind that word? Are we still destroying children with disabilities that do not mean that they'll die before birth or soon after? After 24 weeks, Gunter tells us, the doctor can either induce labor (after killing the fetus with an injection so that the "partial-birth" approach to removing the fetus won't violate the federal law) or use the ripping (it's not ripping!) method described above (which is called "dilation and extraction").
I’ve never heard of a dilation and extraction for any other reason than severe birth defects and often it is for a woman who has had two or three c-sections for whom inducing labor might pose other health hazards, like uterine rupture. Are we to force women to have c-sections for a pregnancy that is not compatible with life?
A good question. I've had 2 c-sections myself, and the second one was recommended because, after the first one, there was a danger of uterine rupture. But what I don't understand here is why wouldn't waiting for a natural birth be the alternative to a c-section? It is natural birth, not abortion, that is parallel to a c-section, since it is intended to keep the baby alive. Gunter doesn't even seem to notice the ethical question why would we accept the deliberate destruction of the fetus at this point? Is it euthanasia (because the fetus is suffering)? Is it for the mental peace of the woman once she knows that this pregnancy is not going to result in a healthy baby? Does it matter whether the disability is fatal? Remember Gunter wrote of birth defects that are "typically considered incompatible with life." So some but not all of these babies would, if not actively killed, go on to die a natural death.

Gunter tells us that some women "might think they can make it to term and then at 34 weeks cave and ask to be delivered because they just can’t bear one more person asking them about their baby":
Do they just smile and walk away or say, “Well, actually, my baby has no brain and will die at birth?” Some women go to term and others can’t. To judge these women for requesting an early delivery is cruel on so many levels. I wrote more about it here if you are interested.  Regardless, terminations for birth defects isn’t ripping “the baby out of the womb in the ninth month.” At 38 or 39 weeks it’s always an induction and is simply called a delivery.
Notice the language glitch: It's "isn't ripping" because it's "called a delivery." Of course, the official terminology avoids the ugly word "ripping." But calling it "delivery" aligns with calling it "partial-birth," which is what horrified people more than the dilation and extraction method and produced the federal law that the Supreme Court upheld in Carhart. Gunter has talked about both methods, above, but she switched to speaking only of the delivery method (with isn't illegal when the body is already dead because of the injection). But Gunter has shifted to talking about abortions after 38 or 39 weeks and now she's telling us there is no longer a choice between the 2 methods. So in that sense, there is no "ripping."

But Trump's use of "ripping" wasn't technical. It was dramatic rhetoric expressing how horrible it is to deliberately kill a human being who is this far along in development. Dr. Gunter is interested in presenting medical practitioners as expert and ethical, but she's not very attuned to the way clinical terminology can sound heartless or deceptive. I'm not convinced by her effort to skewer Trump on his use of the word "rip." Her better argument has to do with how unlikely it is that any baby is killed on the last day of a full term pregnancy, but Ponnuru deals with that argument well: Trump is testing Clinton's principle. Nevertheless, Trump is making people think about the reality, not merely a hypothetical. He's distracting us if he's alarming us about things that aren't happening. I'd like to see the candidates concentrate on the matters that genuinely will occupy their attention if they get into office.

Clinton was also confused or dishonest, as Gunter explains. I suspect that she doesn't want to delve into the ethical questions surrounding the disabled, especially if we're talking about anomalies that begin with Down syndrome.

I suspect that Hillary Clinton feels most comfortable and most politically effective talking about the feelings of women and seeming to empathize with their struggles, referenced abstractly, before scrambling to the high ground of individual autonomy.

"The brothers were not musical visionaries; they were small-time 'indie' record men making a quick buck from the poorest, least respected people in America."

"But their recorded bread-and-butter discs of local street musicians and bar bands still sound as fresh today as they did 60 years ago. By failing to be timely, they succeeded in being timeless."

From the obituary for Phil Chess, who was born  Fiszel Czyz in 1927 in Motal, which was in Poland at the time but is now in Belarus.

Chess Records recorded Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley and many others.
Over the years, the Chess brothers were accused more than once of taking financial advantage of their artists, and there were lawsuits, usually settled confidentially. Some Chess artists said their compensation was more often like an allowance than like a salary. But there were many instances of apparently genuine friendship: Chuck Berry sometimes stayed overnight at Phil’s house.....
Key quote from Phil Chess: "I didn’t know what I was doing." 

"The soullessness of this campaign — all ambition and entitlement — emerges almost poignantly in the emails..."

"... especially when aides keep asking what the campaign is about. In one largely overlooked passage, Clinton complains that her speechwriters have not given her any overall theme or rationale. Isn’t that the candidate’s job? Asked one of her aides, Joel Benenson: 'Do we have any sense from her what she believes or wants her core message to be?' As she told a Goldman Sachs gathering, after the financial collapse there was 'a need to do something because, for political reasons . . . you can’t sit idly by and do nothing.' Giving the appearance that something had to be done. That’s not why Elizabeth Warren supported Dodd-Frank. Which is the difference between a conviction politician like Warren and a calculating machine like Clinton."

From Charles Krauthammer's "Who I’m voting for, and why: We are enduring a campaign of seemingly boundless cynicism." (He's against both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Me too!)

"Hillary can't walk to a podium without an edit."

That's the top rated comment at the YouTube video "Hillary Clinton FULL Speech Al Smith Dinner Charity, Takes Hits at Donald Trump - 10/20/16."

The edit is at 0:03:

Since you've got the whole speech there, let me give you Trump's whole speech:

Oh! He pats Hillary on the upper arm as he passes her. Is touching allowed?

I haven't watched either past the walk-up to the lectern. I consider the Al Smith Dinner a grisly event. Both candidates somehow have to go, and they tell jokes at each other's expense... for the children... or whatever. Ugh.

ADDED: It's interesting watching those fancy people in the background. It's a swank event, they know they within camera range, the presidential candidates are speaking, and they are looking at their iPhones half the time — swiping, even putting on reading glasses to get a better look. Etiquette be damned. Appearances be damned.

A single line on a back page of Bob Dylan's website was the sole indication from his side that he sees he's won the Nobel Prize literature.

That was in the news yesterday, and we talked about it here.

But now that line is expunged:
The simple words “winner of the Nobel prize in literature”, which appeared on the page for The Lyrics: 1961-2012, have now been removed. Bob Dylan, Nobel laureate, is once again plain Bob Dylan.

Dylan... has always stepped away from attempts to corral him into being something he does not want to be.

In 1965, at the height of his fevered elevation from singer to spokesman for a generation, he was asked at a San Francisco press conference whether he thought of himself primarily as a singer or a poet. “Oh, I think of myself more as a song and dance man, y’know?” he replied.

In July 1966, following a motorcycle crash at the peak of his fame, Dylan disappeared from public view. Though it was claimed he had broken several vertebrae, he was never treated in hospital, and he later admitted in his autobiography, Chronicles: “I had been in a motorcycle accident and I’d been hurt, but I recovered. Truth was that I wanted to get out of the rat race.”

Whether the latest twist in the Dylan-Nobel saga is the result of an administrative foul-up or a deliberate choice is unknown – stars’ websites are usually run with extremely limited input from their notional owners, and it’s entirely possible Dylan never knew either that his site had made reference to the prize or removed it....
I love the enigma. We love you, Bob. You don't have to make anything any clearer...

And I tried to make sense
Out of that picture of you in your wheelchair
That leaned up against....
Her Jamaican rum
And when she did come, I asked her for some
She said, “No, dear”
I said, “Your words aren’t clear
You’d better spit out your gum”...

"The simple logistics of access journalism—which by any sane reckoning, is the most debased and putrid form of campaign insiderism..."

"... never should dictate the character or volume of news coverage. Via the holy mandate of candidate access, a thousand journalistic sins get rationalized and pardoned without even a cursory nod to what public interest may be served—or, much more to the point, violated—by the frenetic jockeying of politics reporters to get behind a presidential campaign’s velvet-rope line."

Writes Chris Lehmann in a piece at The Baffler called "Trump TV?/CNN’s Jeff Zucker explains how he became Donald’s useful idiot."

Should the GOP Senators get started confirming Merrick Garland before the election?

I'm reading "Flake says it might be Garland time" (at Politico). Arizona Senator Jeff Flake is saying that even before election day, perhaps the GOP-controlled Senate should move on confirming Garland. Why not wait until after the election (and avoid the in-your-face lack of confidence in Trump)?
Flake's comments come as the Senate GOP weighs how to deal with a Clinton nomination to the Supreme Court. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has ruled out taking up Garland in the lame duck. But that raises the prospect that Clinton could pick someone other than Garland, whom Republicans once praised as a consensus nominee before rolling out a blockade intended to allow voters to weigh in before the vacancy is filled.
What I read between the lines there is: If they wait until after Clinton wins, to move on Garland is to deprive the President-elect of her choice. And that would be after they said that they needed to hold off on Garland because the American people should have the choice of what sort of Supreme Court we want. If the people decide for Clinton, shouldn't Clinton be the one to make the choice? The GOP Senators have held off, in the hope that the GOP candidate might win and get to make the appointment, but if they think Trump is going to lose, their best option might be to move on Garland while they still have a shred of a chance to act as though they're just doing the normal thing of confirming the President's nominee.

Should the GOP Senate move now to confirm Garland?

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ADDED: Poll results:

Much less spending on TV ads in this presidential race than in '12 and '08.

Look at this graph from the NYT:

The article is "Trump Has Spent a Fraction of What Clinton Has on Ads," concentrating on the difference between the 2 current candidates, but I'm struck by the difference between the present and the recent past.

October 20, 2016

Egyptians in "a panic" over a sugar shortage.

According to the NYT, which details the importance of sugar to Egyptians:
Egyptians pile sugar into mugs of tea by the spoonful — or three or five. A staple long subsidized by the government for most of the population, sugar is the chief ingredient of the national pudding, Om Ali. It can feel like the only ingredient. It is also a prime reason that nearly a fifth of Egyptians have diabetes....

“The people are going to snap,” Ahmad el-Gebaly said as he turned away customers seeking sugar he did not have at his subsidized-goods store in Bulaq, a working-class neighborhood of Cairo. “Nobody can stand [President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi] anymore,” he added of Mr. Sisi. “Sugar is like rice and oil and wheat. You can never run out of it. You can never mess with it. Who can live without sugar?”
One solution is to convince people that it's not good to eat so much sugar, but it doesn't sound as though Egyptians are ready to respond well to that advice.

"Are you tired of feeling alone in this crazy, mixed up world?"

Via BoingBoing.

"It Happened to Me: The Alt-Right Turned Me Into a Meme."

It's "Kevin, a New Yorker and vocal Clinton supporter who woke up on Sunday morning to discover an old picture of him from a Clinton campaign event had been co-opted by alt-right Twitter, labeling him a 'truly disgusting specimen' and an 'it.'"

Example of what this young man saw:

New York Magazine interviews him:
So what was your initial reaction?

I screamed. My roommate actually came in to see what happened. Then I started laughing because it’s so amazing to me.

It is pretty great. You look very, um, angelic in that picture.

I’m beaming. I didn’t realize Hillary was going to stand right next to me until it happened, so I’m in full shock and awe....

"Trump Said ‘Bad Hombres’ and All of Twitter Responded With the Same Hair Joke."

You know, bad ombré.

Bob Dylan — or at least his website anyway — finally gives some sign that he knows he won the Nobel Prize.

It's not on the front page of his website or even on the "books" page, but if you click all the way to the page about the new book that collects all his lyrics, you see:
If you want to buy that new book, here's an Amazon link.

Here's what the back cover looks like:

See? He's a writer. He knows it.

But I'm doubting whether this really counts as Bob Dylan acknowledging the Nobel Prize at long last, because the text at his website is the same text that appears at Amazon. It looks like commercial copy from the publisher. I mean, the squib is:
Bob Dylan is one of the most important songwriters of our time, responsible for modern classics such as “Like a Rolling Stone,” “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and “The Times They Are a-Changin’.” The Lyrics is a comprehensive and definitive collection of Dylan’s most recent writing as well as the early works that are such an essential part of the canon. Well known for changing the lyrics to even his best-loved songs, Dylan has edited dozens of songs for this volume, making The Lyrics a must-read for everyone from fanatics to casual fans.
That's so not Bob Dylan's voice.  And it's perfectly silly to pick out “Like a Rolling Stone,” “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and “The Times They Are a-Changin’.”

Where do Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump want to see the Supreme Court "take the country"?

At last night's debate, the moderator, Chris Wallace, chose to make the first question about the Supreme Court. This perked me up. It's what I've concentrated my attention on for the past 35 years, and we've got an open seat and maybe 2 or even 4 seats that may open up in the next presidential term. What I remember from watching the debate last night is that both candidates were absolutely awful. Now that I've slept on it and have access to the transcript, I want to double-check my own opinion. So come along with me and judge for yourself.

Wallace observed that the topic of the Supreme Court had yet to be discussed at a debate in any depth, and he wanted to "drill down." Going to Clinton first, Wallace said:
[W]here do you want to see the court take the country? 
The idea that the Court is in the lead taking us somewhere is all wrong, but no one is going to point that out.
And secondly, what’s your view on how the constitution should be interpreted? Do the founders' words mean what they say or is it a living document to be applied flexibly, according to changing circumstances? 
That's a simple way to prompt the candidates to talk about interpretive methodology, and it's an invitation to bungle, because candidates don't really want to get stuck at either end of those seemingly opposite positions. (I say "seemingly," because you can say that the founder's words meant that this is a living document to be applied flexibly, according to changing circumstances.)

Clinton goes first:
You know, I think when we talk about the Supreme Court, it really raises the central issue in this election. Namely, what kind of country are we going to be? What kind of opportunities will we provide for our citizens? What kind of rights will Americans have? And I feel strongly that the Supreme Court needs to stand on the side of the American people. Not on the side of the powerful corporations and the wealthy. 
I was already loudly arguing with her. The side? The Supreme Court isn't supposed to take sides. She's blatantly saying she wants a Court that doesn't act like a court but gets on one side. Her Court is a Court that ought to have to recuse itself constantly.

On not accepting the results of the election: Let's hear from Russ Feingold: "This game's not over until we win."

That's Russ — who's running for the Senate again here in Wisconsin — haranguing the protesters back in 2011, when the results of the last election were not being accepted. There had been a fair election. No one was saying there had been fraud or improper counting, but the protesters rejected the legitimacy of the outcome, began working on getting a recall election, and — for many weeks — chanted "This is what democracy looks like." That is: Democracy was — instead of accepting the results of the election — resisting conspicuously and vocally.

Now, let's look at what Donald Trump said at last night's debate:

The moderator, Chris Wallace, asked him if he would make a "commitment" that he will "absolutely accept the result of the election."

(I think I would have said: "It depends on what the meaning of 'result' is. If by 'result,' you mean that we have had a chance to look at exactly what happened in all of the states and we can see that the margin of victory is beyond all remaining allegations of fraud, then I will absolutely accept the result. But if you mean that in a close election, where there is suspicion of fraud or mishandling of the ballots, and the other side is calling that the 'result,' and that I should accept that 'result,' no I will not.")

Here's what Trump said:
I will look at it at the time. I’m not looking at anything now, I'll look at it at the time. What I've seen, what I’ve seen, is so bad. First of all, the media is so dishonest and so corrupt and the pile on is so amazing. "The New York Times" actually wrote an article about it, but they don't even care. It is so dishonest, and they have poisoned the minds of the voters....
Notice that Trump isn't talking about fraud and miscounting of ballots there. He's complaining that the voters made the wrong decision. We can't be rejecting the outcome of an election on the ground that the voters thought about it the wrong way! Trump has many good complaints about the media, but if distorted media invalidate elections, we can't have a democracy anymore. There will always be dishonesty and efforts to influence — poisoning — and if we can't get on with it anyway, the whole project of democracy is a bust.

Trump does go on to make a second point, the decent point, that there may be fraud:
If you look at your voter rolls, you will see millions of people that are registered to vote. Millions. This isn't coming from me. This is coming from Pew report and other places. Millions of people that are registered to vote that shouldn't be registered to vote.
This is the good point, and he needed to extend it and explain why irregularities in voting require him to withhold his acceptance of the purported results until we can see what happened. But he does not say that. He just drops the idea that there are a lot of names on the voting rolls that shouldn't be there, and stumbles forward trying to get to a different subject:
So let me just give you one other thing. I talk about the corrupt media. I talk about the millions of people. I'll tell you one other thing. She shouldn't be allowed to run. It’s -- She's guilty of a very, very serious crime. She should not be allowed to run, and just in that respect I say it's rigged because she should never --

Wallace: But, but --

Trump: Chris. She should never have been allowed to run for the presidency based on what she did with e-mails and so many other things.
Wallace stops him:
Wallace: But, sir, there is a tradition in this country, in fact, one of the prides of this country is the peaceful transition of power and no matter how hard fought a campaign is that at the end of the campaign, that the loser concedes to the winner. Not saying you're necessarily going to be the loser or the winner, but that the loser concedes to the winner and the country comes together in part for the good of the country. Are you saying you're not prepared now to commit to that principle?
This is a grand statement by Wallace, and Trump should have shown respect for "that principle," while reminding us of the additional principle that the votes must be legitimate and properly counted and that he will not abandon one principle in preference to the other. Both are treasured, and he will protect both. Well... unless — expecting to lose — he really is laying the groundwork for a post-election political/media career premised on anger and grievance. The first woman President will be the one who gets no honeymoon.

What Trump did say was cutesy and snide:
What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense, okay?
And that's where Hillary Clinton jumped in. She called it "horrifying." She said Trump had a habit of saying things are "rigged" whenever they are not going his way. She listed a bunch of things — such as Trump's saying the federal judge in the Trump University case couldn't be fair — and she ends with the silliest thing — the Emmys were rigged against his TV show.

Trump riffs on that last thing: "Should have gotten it." That's cute and gets a laugh, but he needs to be serious. This is important, and he's going for the opening to be funny. Clinton takes advantage:
Clinton: This is a mind-set. This is how Donald thinks, and it's funny, but it's also really troubling. That is not the way our democracy works. We've been around for 240 years. We've had free and fair elections. We've accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them, and that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a debate stage during a general election. You know, President Obama said the other day when you're whining before the game is even finished....
And that's where Chris Wallace calls an end to this segment of the debate. Hillary gets in a few more words. Trump is "denigrating" and "talking down our democracy" and "I, for one, am appalled...."

And Trump has a few more words but they are off topic (about the email controversy), and Wallace steps back in, more firmly, and shuts the door on what will be the biggest story coming out of the debate:
There they go again. The big bad media, poisoning our mind.

October 19, 2016

The final debate.

Watch with me.

ADDED: Thanks for all the comments! And here's my son John's live-blogging. His bottom line: "Winner: Chris Wallace."

I watched, but I'm going to wait for the transcript — and the morning — to weigh in.

"When we first heard this raw, very young, and seemingly untrained voice, frankly nasal, as if sandpaper could sing, the effect was dramatic and electrifying."

"We—my young husband and I—were classical music lovers for whom the arrival each month of chastely spare, black-on-white Musical Heritage Society albums (does anyone now living remember these?) was an exciting event. Bob Dylan seemed to erupt out of nowhere. The genuine power, originality, and heartrending pathos of 'Blowin’ in the Wind,' 'A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall,' 'Masters of War,' 'Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right' were like nothing we’d encountered before."

Wrote Joyce Carol Oates in 2004. I'm reading that now because it's quoted in the Wikipedia article for the David Bowie song "Song for Bob Dylan," which has the similar line "a voice like sand and glue":
I wrote a song for you
About a strange young man called Dylan
With a voice like sand and glue
Some words had truthful vengeance
That could pin us to the floor
Brought a few more people on
And put the fear in a whole lot more

At the Tiny Caves Café...


... snuggle in.

(And do, please, use the Althouse Amazon Portal if you need or want to buy anything.)

"Top 10 Things We Learned From Hillary Clinton Campaign's Emails" and 10 things that show "Trump Is Indeed a Big Whiny Baby."

2 top stories at Reason.com — one against Clinton and one against Trump.

"Politics is the art of being all things to all people. And of all the versions of the Obamas we’ve been treated to over the last 8 years..."

"... our favorite by far is going to have to be the 'IDGAF I’m Outta Here' version of the Obamas."

"Mike is a deep believer in the idea that 'kids have to find their own balance of power.'"

"He wants his boys to create their own society governed by its own rules. He consciously transformed his family’s house into a kid hangout, spreading the word that local children were welcome to play in the yard anytime, even when the family wasn’t home. Discontented with the expensive, highly structured summer camps typical of the area, Mike started one of his own: Camp Yale, named after his street, where the kids make their own games and get to roam the neighborhood."

From "The Anti-Helicopter Parent’s Plea: Let Kids Play!/A Silicon Valley dad decided to test his theories about parenting by turning his yard into a playground where children can take physicalrisks without supervision. Not all of his neighbors were thrilled" by Melanie Thernstrom in the NYT Magazine.

What about lawsuits?
Mike tells me that people sometimes ask him if he is afraid of lawsuits in the event of an injury on his property. He would never let fear of being sued dictate how he lives his life, he says.

What about second-degree manslaughter, I asked: an accident enabled by negligence, if, say, another child — or even one of his own — broke his neck leaping from the playhouse onto the trampoline. (Unenclosed trampolines are a staple of personal-injury law; an estimated 85,000 children under 14 were hurt on trampolines last year.) Does he ever worry about that?

He flashed me a look, then snorted with laughter.
I guess for an adult, living without fear of lawsuits is like, for a child, climbing up on a playhouse roof and jumping off onto a trampoline. Are you going to live or not? 

"Every four years, by journalistic if not political tradition, the presidential election must be accompanied by a 'revolution.'"

"So what transformed politics this time around? The rise of the Web log, or blog. The commentary of bloggers — individuals or groups posting daily, hourly or second-by-second observations of and opinions on the campaign on their own Web sites — helped shape the 2004 race."

From "The Revolution Will Be Posted," NYT, November 2, 2004.

I'm just indulging in some haphazard nostalgia. Remember when blog was the revolution and mainstream media tried to seem with it by getting the bloggers to come over and stomp around for a short spell? Now, they just embed tweets. More efficient. Less messy.

"David Crosby readily admits that he probably shouldn't be alive. Drug addiction, alcoholism and health issues..."

"... have taken their toll but have not knocked David out. He's still making music and going out on tour, but he had a little time to talk with Marc about The Byrds, CSN, Neil Young, Jerry Garcia, Jimi Hendrix, Woodstock, Altamont, Melissa Etheridge, and much more."

It's not Marc Maron at his greatest, but it was nice hearing from David Crosby, who has acquired some wisdom and humility in his old age... some of it by spending a year in prison in Texas where being a celebrity got you nothing.

If you're like me and you love David from his time in The Byrds — my first rock concert was The Byrds at Newark Symphony Hall on March 27, 1966 — you'll be pained by how little Marc knows or cares about The Byrds. Marc, born in 1963, hangs out in the Crosby, Stills & Nash period. But I did learn that The Byrds kicked Crosby out, and according to Crosby, he deserved it because he was an asshole.

WaPo's Fact Checker gives Hillary 4 Pinocchios.

"Clinton is creating an imaginary Trump here, claiming that Trump didn’t really care about the auto industry."

Hillary's remark (made at Wayne State University in Detroit earlier this month):
“Nobody should be surprised, because back in the Great Recession, when millions of jobs across America hung in the balance, Donald Trump said rescuing the auto industry didn’t really matter very much. He said, and I quote again, ‘Let it go.’ Now, I can’t imagine that. I supported President Obama’s decision to rescue the auto industry in America.” 

"We talk about lots of things that we don't talk about."

Language warning (right from the beginning):

Here's the written article: "Rigging the Election – Video II: Mass Voter Fraud" (Project Veritas Action):
One of the highest-level operatives for the DNC who admits to being “no white knight” said that the Democrats have been rigging elections for fifty years. [The now-fired Scott] Foval then goes on to explain the sinister plot and how they avoid getting caught. The undercover reporter asks why they can’t just “bus in” voters, but get them to use their own personal vehicles. Foval describes how they avoid being detected and free of criminal charges. “Would they charge each individual of voter fraud? Or are they going to go after the facilitator for conspiracy, which they could prove? It’s one thing if all these people drive up in their personal cars. If there’s a bus involved? That changes the dynamic.”

"Ready, Ann?"

In the email:

It's like getting email from The Grim Reaper.

No, I am not ready. Not yet. Back off.

October 18, 2016

"There are things he’s said on the bench where if I had a baseball bat, I might have used it."

Said Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The "he" is Justice Scalia.

I guess that's just one more New Yorker demonstrating how people talk in New York. The other one I'm thinking about is Donald Trump. There's hyperbole, humor, casual nonchalance about referring to physical violence. Pussy-grabbing, hitting with a baseball bat — the non-New-Yorkers gasp, but this is how they talk — right?

"If you're there and you're protesting and you do these actions, you will be attacked at Trump rallies. That's what we want."

"The whole point of it is that we know that Trump's people will freak the fuck out, his security team will freak out, and his supporters will lose their shit."

Said Scott Foval, who was the national field director for the Americans United for Change until he was fired for saying that on a James O’Keefe undercover video.

"Good news for our beloved sodomite whorehouse: The Westboro Baptist Church will be paying us a long-overdue visit this Thursday at 11 a.m."

"Apparently, University of Wisconsin’s ranking as one of the most LGBT-friendly campuses in the nation was the last straw on the camel’s back, plunging us into the depths of indecency, blasphemy and hedonism....  It is exceedingly difficult to pass up the opportunity to taunt them, take photographs or attempt to strike up conversation in the hopes that perhaps maybe one of the many will come to their senses. But... to interact with their message is to confirm that it is a valid opinion which warrants discussion. But it’s not. To partake in these conversations is not constructive dialogue. Their message doesn’t deserve to be dignified."

From "Complete apathy is best strategy for dealing with Westboro Baptist Church/Hate group relies on antagonizing pedestrians to fund twisted agenda" in The Badger Herald.

(That phrase "sodomite whorehouse" comes from the church itself: "WBC will protest the sodomite whorehouse masquerading as the University of Wisconsin-Madison in religious protest and warning. Ranked the top LGBT friendly and the top party school in the nation, UW-Madison spends more time indoctrinating the drunken students to worship the fag agenda then to learn anything meaningful.")

"While [Michael] Moore may be more open about the electioneering involved in Michael Moore in Trumpland and the making of the movie..."

"... it's nothing new for the politically-minded director, whose films often have an unapologetic political agenda to them. What's new is that Citizens United allows Moore to be honest about it. The film that sparked that landmark First Amendment ruling, Hillary: The Movie, was inspired by Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, released in the summer of 2004, and the influence that film had on the election season.... The Federal Elections Commission decided... that the two films were different because the latter was 'electioneering.' In [Citizens United], the Supreme Court took away the power from government to make those kind of highly subjective distinctions, freeing Michael Moore to be honest about his intents...."

Writes Ed Krayewski at Reason.com.

"Cruisin' and playin' the radio/With no particular place to go... "

And Chuck Berry is still not gone. He's made it to 90, today. Happy Birthday!

Here's Peter Guralnick at Rolling Stone: "Why Chuck Berry Is Even Greater Than You Think/Revelatory encounters with a rock & roll pioneer." Excerpt:
When he was recognized in 2012 by PEN New England (a division of the international writers' organization) for its first "Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence" award, his co-honoree, Leonard Cohen, graciously declared that "all of us are footnotes to the words of Chuck Berry," while Bob Dylan called him "the Shakespeare of rock & roll."...

He is, like many of us, his own best advocate and his own worst enemy, but the particular problem for Chuck is that, for all of the accolades that have come his way... to this day he has not been unambiguously embraced in the full artistic terms he deserves. There are undoubtedly a multiplicity of reasons for this (race would certainly have to be factored in), but the principal reason that Chuck has not been lifted up on a wave of critical and biographical hosannas is Chuck himself. His unwillingness to ingratiate himself. His unreadable apartness. The deep-seated sense of anger and suspicion that can unexpectedly flare up and turn into overt hostility, with or without provocation.... Most of all, I would guess, it comes down to his determined, uncompromisingly defiant refusal to conform to anyone else's expectations but his own.

Journey, Electric Light Orchestra, Steppenwolf and Joan Baez.

All were just nominated — for the first time — to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Seems like if you've been around that long and haven't got in yet, it's better not to be talked about in this connection at all.

By the way, I've seen 2 of those 4 acts in concert. 

"He started whining before the game's even over."

Said President Obama about Donald Trump's assertion that the election system is rigged.

But isn't that the best time to protest that a game is rigged — before the game is over? After it's over and you've lost, you seem more self-interested and less credible.

I think Obama's point would be better if he'd said "He started whining when he saw that he was going to lose the game." (And Obama did also say something like that: "If whenever things are going badly for you and you lose, you start blaming somebody else, then you don't have what it takes to be in this job.")

ADDED: Instapundit, quoting the quote in the post title, says: "To be fair, isn't this what someone who rigged an election would say?"

At the Rock Face Café...


... you can talk about anything you want.

And please consider doing your Amazon shopping through the Althouse Amazon Portal.

"The Swedish Academy says it has given up trying to reach Bob Dylan, days after it awarded him the Nobel prize in literature."

"So far the American troubadour has responded with silence since he won the prize on Thursday."

Kissing babies... it used to be the stereotypical politician's move.

But Trump ruined it:

Look: Obama did it so nicely:


Just looking at that picture, I got chills and tears came to my eyes. That man is so lovely. I'm advance-missing him.

Is it time for politicians to stop with the kissing? Here's David Shears, a Brit looking at America, writing in 1961, "Is Baby Kissing Really Necessary?"
While blintz-eating and other epicurean forms of electioneering may swing the odd vote here and there, I very much doubt if baby-kissing cuts any political ice whatever. In this respect I agree with Mr. Arthur Levitt, the Democratic organization candidate for Mayor of New York, who sternly refused to kiss babies when he toured the Rockaways during the primary campaign. I refuse to believe this reserve had anything to do with his defeat. He was merely exercising every man's right to draw the line.
And in 1968, Nixon said: "I won't wear a silly hat, or kiss a lady or a baby. I won't ski down a hill or do any stunting like that—I'd look like a jerk."

Both those quotes are from a 2012 Mother Jones article: "Politicians Kissing Babies: A Short History/From Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama, a cheeky timeline of a revered and reviled American political custom."

As for "exercising every man's right to draw the line" — which referred to the politician's right not to kiss — How about the baby's right? The baby is used as a prop — an object — and has no option to exercise a right to kiss or not to kiss. There's no capacity to consent.

Are we to view baby-kissing as sexual now, because Trump reminds us of sexual intrusions (on adult women)? So now, babies must not be kissed, even if unlike Nixon, the politician thinks the kissing of babies will further his pursuit of power? It worked for Obama.

Ah, but the kissing of babies can't be considered sexual, because we have to kiss our own babies. How tragic to make people think that might be wrong. The problem is the use of children in politics. Just stop that... or minimize it. Be very careful. You can use children a little, but treat them with the utmost respect.

Gender equality: Naked statue division.

In August, we saw the naked Trump statue set up in Union Square in NYC, and today we get the naked Hillary statue at the Bowling Green subway entrance in downtown Manhattan.
Video... shows [Nancy, an employee at the nearby National Museum of the American Indian] struggling with the artist who erected the statue, who identified himself as 27-year-old Anthony Scioli, as he tried to prop the structure back up. At one point during the tussle, the woman sits down on the statue to prevent Scioli from picking it back up.
Free speech. It's got to work both ways. Either impromptu sidewalk statues are okay or they are not.

Here's what I said back in August:

"You can defend Clinton and say saying 'Oh, this goes on all the time,' but that’s the point."

"They are trying to wipe away this sort of culture of corruption. It is hard to deny that there is a quid pro quo, or at least one was proposed, when the phrase 'quid pro quo' is used to describe the transaction in the documents. This is the 'camera and sausage' factor. I don’t think that we should be shocked that this happens in any bureaucracy, but once you see it in black in white, and you hear the charge that Clinton represents business as usual — and corrupt business as usual — that, I think, accentuates the charge, and makes it a very serious one."

Said Charles Krauthammer, as reported at National Review, talking about the newly released documents showing that a senior State Department Official offered what somebody else called "quid pro quo" to get the FBI to mark a document unclassified.

Is "the 'camera and sausage' factor" an expression we are supposed to recognize? No. A search for the precise term got to the emblematic nothingness of "Real Haunting Caught On Camera: The Haunted Sausage":

I have to assume that Krauthammer meant to gesture at the quote: "Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made." That's the original remark from 1869, and it's less of a famous quote than a famous simile, not always specific to law: Something is like watching sausage getting made. I guess Krauthammer didn't picture himself in the sausage factory, witnessing the gruesome goings-on, but watching video of the process. So a camera is in the sausage factory.

And now, I'm actually watching the video of Krauthammer speaking, which appears at the first link in this post along with the transcription, and I am cursing from down here in this rat hole. Krauthammer did not say "the 'camera and sausage' factor." National Review mistranscribed what was in fact "the camera in the sausage factory." Ah, well, my supposition was correct, and it would have been perfectly easy to understand if it had been correctly transcribed in the first place.

I know. I know you're going to say the important thing here is the State Department and the so-called quid pro quo. Althouse got off on one of her language kicks again. She's always ready to take the off-ramp to Languageville. Stay on the super-highway of current politics, Althouse.

But why? In the future, someone Googling something will find this in the archive because they're interested in the simile that's lived and prospered for a century and a half so far and that will exist, I suspect, for as long as humanity has meat scraps that need to be made into something delicious. No one will remember the outrage of the day that was October 17, 2016.

It would be more useful to amble down another street in Languageville and talk about what "quid pro quo" really means and whether the proposed trade of favors, referred to as "quid pro quo," is really the kind of quid pro quo that we talk about when we talk about political corruption.

ADDED: The 2014 Supreme Court case McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission talks about the phrase "quid pro quo" quite restrictively:
That Latin phrase captures the notion of a direct exchange of an official act for money. See McCormick v. United States, 500 U. S. 257, 266 (1991) . “The hallmark of corruption is the financial quid pro quo: dollars for political favors.” Federal Election Comm’n v. National Conservative Political Action Comm., 470 U. S. 480, 497 (1985)...

"A total of eight women and two men have been selected to serve as the jury."

In the Rolling Stone defamation trial.

"If this is standard operating procedure, why call yourself 'a hack' when sending copy for the purposes of fact-checking?"

"Furthermore, why ask Podesta to not 'tell anyone I did this' if this is an innocent fact-check request"?

Asks Larry O'Connor, looking into what  Politico’s Glenn Thrush wrote to John Podesta (which was: "No worries Because I have become a hack I will send u the whole section that pertains to u. Please don’t share or tell anyone I did this Tell me if I fucked up anything.")

The official Politico answer is: "Glenn has a self-deprecating sense of humor, one of the many blessings of being born and raised in Brooklyn."

I can buy that explanation, but it only goes so far. Self-deprecating humor works when it has at least some truth in it. But Thrush's statement makes sense as a way to extract more information from Podesta, reeling him in by making him think that Thrush will serve as his mouthpiece.

That's what journalists do, as Janet Malcolm brilliantly explained in her great book "The Journalist and the Murderer," which begins:
Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible. He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people’s vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse. Like the credulous widow who wakes up one day to find the charming young man and all her savings gone, so the consenting subject of a piece of nonfiction writing learns—when the article or book appears—his hard lesson. Journalists justify their treachery in various ways according to their temperaments. The more pompous talk about freedom of speech and “the public’s right to know”; the least talented talk about Art; the seemliest murmur about earning a living.

The catastrophe suffered by the subject is no simple matter of an unflattering likeness or a misrepresentation of his views; what pains him, what rankles and sometimes drives him to extremes of vengefulness, is the deception that has been practiced on him. On reading the article or book in question, he has to face the fact that the journalist—who seemed so friendly and sympathetic, so keen to understand him fully, so remarkably attuned to his vision of things—never had the slightest intention of collaborating with him on his story but always intended to write a story of his own. The disparity between what seems to be the intention of an interview as it is taking place and what it actually turns out to have been in aid of always comes as a shock to the subject.

"Midway through releasing a series of damaging disclosures about U.S. presidential contender Hillary Clinton..."

".... WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says his hosts at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London abruptly cut him off from the internet...."
With both WikiLeaks and Ecuadorean officials refusing to say much more about the incident, outsiders were left to guess at what was happening behind closed doors at the embassy suite at No. 3 Hans Crescent, a stucco-fronted building which Assange has called home for more than four years. Had Ecuadorean diplomats lost patience with their famous Australian houseguest? Had they finally bowed to pressure from Washington to muzzle the outspoken ex-hacker following one revelation too many? Had there been some other kind of confrontation?

October 17, 2016

"I feel Donald Trump did the show in an effort to be entertaining and have fun with us, and I feel like it would be a betrayal..."

"... to any of our guests if I sat there and played them now where people are attacking him," said Howard Stern. Also:
"All the times I've been around guys — and believe me when I'm around guys 85 percent of the time you're talking about pussy but I have never been in the room when someone has said 'grab them by the pussy,'” Stern says. "No one's ever advocated going that step where you get a little bit, 'Hey, I'm going to invade someone's space.'"

"My own fame is about 1% of Trump’s fame. And I can confirm that when women hear what I do for a living..."

"... they tend to act sexually available. In other words, they flirt. But it isn’t always the 'real' kind of flirting. They might have husbands or boyfriends and no intention of cheating. But their body language tends to be inviting in ways that non-famous people never see. The signals can be confusing because sexual attraction and celebrity-awe look the same to the observer. I’m willing to bet that when Trump is alone with a woman, she often – but not always – sends signals of availability, whether she intends it or not. Her rational mind – and her words – might be giving a clear message of no while her eyes, body language, and other signals are responding to power the way humans have evolved to respond."

Writes Scott Adams, who is quick to say that he's just offering some "context" and "excuse or condone anything Trump has allegedly done."

I don't think this context is anything sophisticated adults don't already understand, but the point is that Trump is running to be President. He needs to be worthy of great trust and not confused by people who are in awe of him. People will be in awe of the President, and he needs to have his wits about him. If he — even as an old man — sees young women as his willing play things, he's not very sharp. He's an old fool. We don't need an old fool as our President.

Did John McCain just say that a GOP Senate will refuse to confirm a Supreme Court nominee for an entire Hillary Clinton presidential term??!

He said:
"I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up. I promise you. This is where we need the majority and Pat Toomey is probably as articulate and effective on the floor of the Senate as anyone I have encountered."
Here's the later clarification from a McCain spokesperson:
"Senator McCain believes you can only judge people by their record and Hillary Clinton has a clear record of supporting liberal judicial nominees.... That being said, Senator McCain will, of course, thoroughly examine the record of any Supreme Court nominee put before the Senate and vote for or against that individual based on their qualifications as he has done throughout his career."
So I guess the point is that a GOP Senate will demand a nonliberal nominee. If Hillary Clinton responds properly to that pressure and nominates someone with a record that demonstrates nonliberalism, the GOP Senators will vote for that person. 

"They were kind of boy talk, and he was led on, like egg on, from the host to say dirty and bad stuff."

Said Melania Trump to Anderson Cooper, blaming Billy Bush for Donald Trump's pussy-grabbing remark.

At the tiny waterfall...


... you can talk about anything you want.

Likely voters are split just about evenly about whether they think many men say things like Trump's "Access Hollywood" remarks.

This new Monmouth poll shows likely voters are not really surprised that Trump said these things. Only 7% said they were shocked:

These numbers would make me think Trump has a decent chance to ride out what I thought was his death knell (because he was confessing to and gloating about sexual assault).

There's also a question: "Have you heard the recent news about allegations that Donald Trump made unwanted advances on different women over the years...?" And then: "Do you think these allegations are definitely true, probably true, probably not true, or definitely not true?" A full 22% say "Definitely true," and 40% more say "Probably true." Only 26% say "Probably not true" or "Definitely not true." But what I'm seeing there is the weakness of the wording of the question: "unwanted advances." What counts as an "unwanted advance"? That sounds like it would include even the slightest touch or spoken invitation, even before the woman indicated that she wasn't interested. I don't know what to make of these numbers.

Trump's own recorded remarks have had a much more powerful effect on me than the statements of the women who have come forward in these last weeks of the campaign to make allegations. It seems unfair to drop this material into the campaign now. And I don't know the details of what they said Trump did. If I had been surveyed, however, I would have said I'd heard the news, and I wouldn't have known how to answer the follow-up about whether I thought it was true. I might have said "Probably true" simply because of the weakness of the expression "unwanted advances."

Trump's own remarks have been especially important in my thinking about him because they fit a template that I have observed: I think he does not see law. He has a blindness toward the structures of law. I discussed this with respect to what he said about libel law last March:

Victor Davis Hanson makes "The Case for Trump."

At National Review.

I'll live-blog my reading of it. The subtitle is "Conservatives should vote for the Republican nominee," so this is not an argument aimed at me, but I'm interested to see how he attempts to sell Trump to conservatives.
... [E]ven before the latest revelations from an eleven-year-old Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump crudely talked about women, he had long ago in the primaries gratuitously insulted his more moderate rivals and their supporters...
Trump’s personal and professional life has been lurid — as, again, we were reminded by the media-inspired release of a hot-mic tape of past Trump crude sexual braggadocio. The long campaigning has confirmed Trump as often uncouth — insensitive to women and minorities. He has never held office. His ignorance of politics often embarrasses those in foreign- and domestic-policy circles. Trump’s temperament is mercurial, especially in its ego-driven obsessions with slights to his business ethics and acumen. He wins back supporters by temporary bouts of steadiness as his polls surge, only to alienate them again with crazy nocturnal tweets and off-topic rants....
Hanson begins by digging a deep hole, so it's hard to stick around to see how he will purport to dig us back up out of it.

"The day after the Nobel Prize announcement, here's Dylan growling out 'Ballad of a Thin Man' at Desert Trip, Coachella..."

"... as he prowls around the stage in an Armani jacket with no shirt under it. Bangs away at the piano for the last couple of verses. (I'm guessing about the Armani, but I betcha)."

Writes Jeff Gee in the comments to the post about the Harvard classics professor who teaches a course called Bob Dylan.

In the post, I quoted from "Ballad of a Thin Man" — "You’ve been with the professors/And they’ve all liked your looks/With great lawyers you have/Discussed lepers and crooks/You’ve been through all of/F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books...." That's a line that hits close to home for me, being a professor and a lawyer and an F.-Scott-Fitzgerald blogger.

I loved the video: 1. "Ballad of a Thin Man" is one of the very best Dylan songs, 2. It's close up and in clear focus and the microphone in the way is compositionally interesting, and 3. I'm fascinated to watch his face because he's doing what he's done so many times before but he has this sudden amazing new honor, the Nobel Prize. Is he feeling gratified? Inflated? Surreal? Or is he not changed at all?
Gonna change my way of thinking
Make myself a different set of rules
Gonna put my good foot forward
And stop being influenced by fools...
Well, don’t know which one is worse
Doing your own thing or just being cool
You remember only about the brass ring
You forget all about the golden rule

"Any able-bodied person who owns a gun should take that gun and spend the evening driving around town looking for anything white lurking in alleyways."

Rule #2 for how to go trick-or-treating in the Churchill, Canada, where thousands of polar bears arrive in the fall, hungry from fasting and waiting for the ice they need to get out into Hudson's Bay and start hunting for seals.

“It’s a slam dunk for someone like you, taking away all your female parts. We thought you’d eat that up. A transgender gift.”

Said the doctor to the breast-cancer patient who, in fact, did not want the surgery.

"Let me say for the billionth time: Reporters don't root for a side. Period."

Chris Cillizza tweets.

Saying it more times doesn't make it more believable. Saying "Period" doesn't end the discussion.

Wouldn't it be weird if it did?

ADDED: I can see how a serious, ethical journalist might have a complicated relationship with the feeling of "rooting" for something. Journalism gets important and exciting when terrible things happen, so a journalist might detect himself "rooting" for the Category 5 hurricane to hit Miami or for a second jetliner to crash into the World Trade Center or for terrible allegations about a beloved pop star to grow more and more undeniable or for an assassination to inspire multiple copycats. These are shameful feelings warranting vigorous repression.

Hey, why don't all the comments threads begin like...

... this.

Harvard classics professor who teaches a course on Bob Dylan gets vindication from Bob Dylan's winning the Nobel Prize.

The NYT has an article on Richard F. Thomas, "who has been gently teased by colleagues for teaching a freshman seminar about Bob Dylan."
Mr. Thomas uses the course, simply called “Bob Dylan,” to put the artist in context of not just popular culture of the last half-century, but the tradition of classical poets like Virgil and Homer....
There’s a stanza that goes: “I’m gonna spare the defeated — I’m gonna speak to the crowd/… I’m goin’ to teach peace to the conquered/I’m gonna tame the proud.” That’s pretty much a direct quote of lines spoken in the “Aeneid” by the ghost of Aeneas’s father, Anchises, who he sees in the underworld, and who basically says to him: “Other people will make sculpture. Your art, your job as a Roman, is to ‘spare defeated peoples, tame the proud.’”...

[H]e’s like Virgil or Ovid: someone who came late enough in the tradition and has enough tradition behind him — T. S. Eliot wrote about this — that he can control it and also be part of it, recreating and refreshing it.I don’t see any difference between a poet like Catullus or Virgil and Bob Dylan. I think they are doing the same things. It has to do with control of language, connecting of lyrics and melodies. That’s what makes it timeless....
I like that Thomas has never met Bob Dylan and doesn't see much need or even value to talking to him: "Whatever I asked him, he wouldn’t tell me. Dylan is very careful at controlling what he gets asked."

I agree. We were talking about something like that yesterday, and I was saying I didn't have any kind of feeling of wanting to know Bob Dylan personally. The Bob Dylan that matters to me comes through the art. That's the direct experience. No reason to want to go around that to get somewhere else when you're already here.

Well, I really like Professor Thomas and his Virgil-and-Ovid comparisons. I'm not going to criticize him. But seeing this article made me think the Nobel Prize is going to motivate and justify a lot of other teachers to build courses around Bob Dylan, to speak about him in lofty tones, and to impose him on the young. I'm picturing a lot of aging, self-indulgent professors devising their Bob Dylan courses....

You’ve been with the professors/And they’ve all liked your looks/With great lawyers you have/Discussed lepers and crooks/You’ve been through all of/F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books...

... and thinking that's not what Bob Dylan means.

ADDED: Here's Thomas's article "The Classical Dylan." Excerpt:
Like Dylan, Virgil was accused of plagiarism. There is an anecdote in Suetonius’ Life of Virgil 46 on the poet’s response to the critics’ charge of plagiarizing Homer: “Why don’t they try the same thefts? They’ll find out it’s easier to snatch Hercules’ club from him than a single line from Homer.” Dylan successfully stole three from Virgil, embracing T. S. Eliot’s maxim “immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.” Poems that are layered with intertexts reveal depths of meaning through our recognition of those texts as we import other contexts that work together with new images, metaphors, and other poetic or musical effects. That is true of Virgil, Dante, Milton, and as we saw, it was true of “Lonesome Day Blues” and much else on Love and Theft. This way of writing indeed seems to be particularly a feature of the mature Dylan, starting with Time Out Of Mind. In his December 5th, 2004, 60 Minutes interview he says of “It’s Alright, Ma,” “I don’t know how I got to write those songs.” When asked if he can still write like that he replies that he cannot: “I did it once, and I can do other things now. But, I can’t do that.”